Stefanos Tsitsipas said he was “a different player” than he used to be after being shot in a fourth Australian Open semifinal and clash with Karen Khachanov on Tuesday. The Greek third seed proved too powerful for unseeded Czech Jiri Lehecka at the Rod Laver Arena. He will face Russia’s 18th seed Khachanov for a place in his first Melbourne Park final, having crashed three times before in the semis, including in the past two years.
Russia’s Khachanov booked his place as American Sebastian Korda retired injured with a wrist injury trailing 7-6 (7/5), 6-3, 3-0.
When asked afterwards if he felt different from previous years and believes this could finally be his year, 24-year-old Tsitsipas said: “I feel great with my tennis. I don’t think I’ve felt this way in a long time. felt good.” .
“I will definitely say yes. I said it, I am a different player, play differently. My mentality is different.
“When I’m on the pitch I don’t really think about negative things to be honest. I just go out and play the game.”
Tsitsipas, who will become world number one if he wins the title, has thrived on the energy of the Melbourne crowd.
The city has a large Greek population, including some of his extended family, and he considers this his “home” tournament.
Tsitsipas’ best Slam to date is reaching the final of the French Open in 2021, losing to Novak Djokovic in five sets after leading 2-0.
Lehecka, ranked 71, warned before the match that he wanted revenge after losing to Tsitsipas in the semifinals in Rotterdam last year.
But the 21-year-old, who beat 11th seed Cameron Norrie and sixth seed Felix Auger-Aliassime on his way to the last eight, was immediately under fire.
Tsitsipas scored five break points in his first service game and crossed the line when the Czech hit a backhand volley wide.
He consolidated for a 3-0 lead and with his strong first serve giving Lehecka few chances to hit back, he moved into the first set in 36 minutes and sealed it with an ace.
Tsitsipas saved five break points to hold onto a crucial third game of the second set as Lehecka came to life and began to apply pressure.
Both players dug in and it went to a tiebreak with serve, where the Greek kept his cool to take an early advantage that he never gave up.
In a narrow third set, Tsitsipa’s second double foul of the night gave Lehecka three break points in game seven.
But he kept them all to hold and pumped the air to celebrate.
Bit between his teeth, the Greek star turned up the pressure as Lehecka served to stay in the match and a cross court backhand gave him a match point which he converted.
“It felt different this time than any other game and in the end the most important thing is that I found a solution,” said Tsitsipas.
To reach his first final in Melbourne, Tsitsipas will have to get past Khachanov.
The Russian is in his second consecutive Grand Slam semifinal after a run-up to the same podium at last September’s US Open.
“I think the first semifinals I did in the US Open gave me an extra boost and extra confidence to show where I really am, what I can do when I’m at my best,” said Khachanov.
“Physically too, after the pre-season, I feel very good so far.”
(This story has not been edited by DailyExpertNews staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
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